At PayFit, a payroll and HR software company, employees have been practising Work From Anywhere since the summer of 2020. The company, which recently became a unicorn, has 700 employees who can work - more or less - wherever and whenever they want, within the legal framework. Maude Roger is in charge of the Work From Anywhere policy at PayFit.
How did the idea of 'Work From Anywhere' come about?
We launched this policy just after the first lockdown. This period of 100% teleworking allowed us to better understand the impact of remote working on our employees. We conducted surveys during the lockdown: 90% of employees told us that they felt more fulfilled with more flexibility. 80% of them said they felt more productive with this flexibility. We worked with the HR team on the big ideas for this new work organisation, before discussing them with the founders, managers and employees. The project was launched in July 2020. Not everything was perfect, we learned as we went along. Today we allow our employees to work from where they want to, almost whenever they want to, within the legal framework.
This allows for a real work-life balance, employees can organise their working day as they see fit, as long as they are productive and organise themselves well. It's all based on employee responsibility and trust.
What are the obligations of employees?
We recommend that employees come to the office at least once a month, as human contact and face-to-face sharing is essential.
They have the possibility of moving to the provinces if they wish. Today, about one hundred employees live in the regions. They have a budget of 400 euros per month, including accommodation, transport and meals when travelling to Paris.
Furthermore, if an employee wants to work abroad, he or she can do so, but must return to the office after three months, in order to preserve the company culture and team cohesion. We limit the time spent abroad to 6 months per year for tax reasons. Employees are free to stay anywhere in the world, with the exception of certain countries which are excluded from our policy for insurance reasons (e.g. Canada or the USA) or security reasons.
In terms of insurance, how are employees covered from abroad?
Employees have to fill in an internal online application when they want to travel abroad for more than two days. It is important for us to know exactly where they are and for how long for legal and security reasons. The request is processed by HR and the IT team, who check, among other things, that they are well covered and that the country is not risky. HR also has to declare them to the CPAM, the French primary health insurance fund. In the European Union, in addition, there is the EHIC, the European Health Insurance Card, which allows easier access to health services in the member states. We also ask the employee to have private insurance when going abroad because the Health Insurance does not cover certain expenses.
What is the occupancy rate of your offices in Paris?
Outside the covid period, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are busy, with approximately 60-75% of the space occupied on these days. The offices are less busy on Mondays and Fridays, with 25-30% of the space occupied.
Our employees are mainly hybrid profiles who alternate between teleworking and office work. But some come in every day, others are almost entirely teleworking.
What is the philosophy of Work from Anywhere?
This is a key element of PayFit's culture, which contributes to the development of employees, and is one of the company's missions. It's very important to trust our employees and give them responsibility. Thanks to this new organisation, many employees have been able to engage more in their passions, travel, spend more time with their families and have a better work-life balance.
There is also a recruitment issue: it allows us to turn to new talent, particularly those based in the provinces. Work from Anywhere is also a retention factor and serves to keep people who wanted to move to the regions in the months or years to come.
What is the financial impact of this policy?
Greater flexibility invites a rethinking of budgets. As mentioned earlier, we have a budget for travel for employees living in the provinces.
We have also increased the budget for team-buildings, to strengthen team cohesion. This is even more important in hybrid mode. We want to encourage frequent events, not infrequent team-buildings with exorbitant budgets.
Finally, we have set up an equipment budget to ensure that our employees feel comfortable and efficient in their work space.
What are the limits of this policy?
It is a very flexible work organisation with few constraints. But you have to keep in mind that the customers and the team must come first.
If an employee is in a job where he or she is in direct contact with customers, he or she will need to work in the same time zone as them. If not, the pace will be unsatisfactory: poor work-life balance, difficulty in communicating with teams and customers... This is not what PayFit wants to encourage. In some cases, it is therefore difficult to work in a country with a significant time difference.
What is the role of managers in managing Work From Anywhere? Isn't it too much for them to handle?
The role of managers has been strengthened with this new work organisation:
On the one hand, they need to be even more available to their teams and set clear objectives for the way they work. On the other hand, they also need to ensure that employees collaborate effectively and remain motivated and fulfilled.
Managers have the opportunity to organise the working rhythm of their team as they see fit and to set regular rituals to maintain a good cohesion.
They also have tools and training to engage their team and give them full confidence. In particular, they have access to training videos on various topics, such as leadership, organising remote meetings and preventing isolation.
We also asked them about their good practices during the confinement in order to create an internal "manager's guide". Finally, the HR teams are obviously listening to the needs and requests of the managers in order to support them as best as possible in this work organisation.
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